29 March 2015

Rating Systems Challenge: Chalky Day, Advantage Sagarin


This post is part of a series tracking the successes and failures of various NCAA Men's Basketball ranking systems and bracket models throughout the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Check out the full series.

Yesterday was a day of reckoning for several of the systems in the 2015 Rating Systems Challenge. The ten that picked Arizona (2) to upset Wisconsin (1) were disappointed, and suffered heavily in the standings.



28 March 2015

Rating Systems Challenge: Preseason Polls Gain Ground, Thanks to Louisville


This post is part of a series tracking the successes and failures of various NCAA Men's Basketball ranking systems and bracket models throughout the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Check out the full series.

In the real world, Michigan State's (7) upset of Oklahoma (3) was probably the most exciting game of the night. In the 2015 Rating Systems challenge, that game didn't even leave a mark: not a single one of the systems I'm tracking picked the Spartans or the Sooners. Instead, the most important victory by a low seed was Louisville (4), which beat the NC State Wolfpack (8) in a game that every other system gave to Villanova (1).


While the ESPN Decision Tree bracket remains atop the standings, the postseason poll brackets have moved back into respectability. The USA Today Preseason Poll bracket has moved into sixth place, while the ninth place AP Preseason Poll leads all others in possible points remaining.


27 March 2015

Rating Systems Challenge: Decision Tree Takes the Lead


This post is part of a series tracking the successes and failures of various NCAA Men's Basketball ranking systems and bracket models throughout the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Check out the full series.

Last night's tilt between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3) and the Wichita State Shockers (7) played the role of decider at the top of the Rating Systems Challenge standings. The leading bracket heading into the contest, Pinnacle's Thursday morning Vegas line, banked on Wichita State. The other three leaders, ESPN Decision Tree, Jeff Sagarin and Sonny Moore, all had Notre Dame. Though the Shockers kept it close, the Irish prevailed in the end, giving the ESPN Decision Tree bracket the lead (tied in total points with Sagarin and Sonny Moore, Decision Tree has more possible points remaining).


25 March 2015

Rating Systems Challenge: Systems Divided over Shockers, Fighting Irish


This post is part of a series tracking the successes and failures of various NCAA Men's Basketball ranking systems and bracket models throughout the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Check out the full series.

Heading into the Sweet Sixteen we have a four-way tie atop the 2015 Rating Systems Challenge leaderboard. Pinnacle's Thursday-morning Vegas line, ESPN Insider's Decision Tree, Jeff Sagarin and Sonny Moore lead the pack (Decision Tree has more possible points remaining and Pinnacle's line has nailed more correct picks).

Whether these systems maintain their lead going forward largely depends on picking the right upsets. Thanks to Kansas' surprise collapse in the second round, either winner of Thursday night's Notre Dame (3) vs. Wichita State (7) match-up will count as an upset with the chance to disrupt brackets.


23 March 2015

Rating Systems Challenge: Vegas, ESPN Decision Tree Pace Field


This post is part of a series tracking the successes and failures of various NCAA Men's Basketball ranking systems and bracket models throughout the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Check out the full series.

We're through two rounds of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, and we have four systems leading the pack. The ESPN Decision Tree (an ESPN Insider tool for picking brackets) Jeff Sagarin's ratings, Sonny Moore's ratings and Pinnacle's Thursday morning Vegas lines top the standings with 480 total points.* Perhaps, however, the bigger story is just how well most of the systems have performed thus far.

*The Vegas bracket remains the official top bracket in the Rating Systems Challenge, since that system has picked more winners through forty-eight games. ESPN Decision Tree occupies the second spot due to its relative surplus of possible points remaining.

22 March 2015

Rating Systems Challenge: Wolfpack Deals Wild Blow to Twelve Brackets


This post is part of a series tracking the successes and failures of various NCAA Men's Basketball ranking systems and bracket models throughout the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Check out the full series.

Short post today: here's how the various systems are performing after the first day of the second round. Vegas is beating everyone, but fully ten brackets are outperforming chalk and reside in the upper echelon of the ESPN Tournament Challenge.


Villanova's (1) loss to NC State (8) will hamper several systems going forward. Twelve brackets had Nova in the Final Four, six had the Wildcats representing their half of the bracket in the championship game.


Programming note: I'm on vacation this weekend with limited internet. If you'd like to follow along between posts, check out the Rational Pastime Tournament Challenge Group.

20 March 2015

Rating Systems Challenge: Panthers, Blazers Bust Brackets


This post is part of a series tracking the successes and failures of various NCAA Men's Basketball ranking systems and bracket models throughout the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Check out the full series.

It wasn't long before the first round of NCAA Tournament play put the Madness in March. The Georgia State Panthers (14) and the University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers (14) upset three-seeds Baylor and Iowa State, respectively, early in the afternoon. As for the Rating Systems Challenge, however, these upsets had little effect: not one of the twenty-two systems picked either upset. Most systems did have Iowa State reaching the Sweet Sixteen, however. The only system that didn't put Iowa State in the Sweet Sixteen was the oft-chancy Nolan Power Index, which has already dug itself into its perennial hole.


19 March 2015

Rating Systems Challenge: 2015 Systems Overview


This post is part of a series tracking the successes and failures of various NCAA Men's Basketball ranking systems and bracket models throughout the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Check out the full series.

March Madness is back and that means so is the Rational Pastime Rating Systems Challenge. This year I'm pitting twenty-two separate rating systems head to head in an ESPN Tournament Challenge pool. In this, the fifth year of the Challenge, we'll see which systems picked the right upsets, and which emerge victorious from the field. Will any successfully outperform a pure chalk bracket? Over the past four years, only Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight model has successfully done so.